Man gets jail term for selling marijuana to tourists in Lahaina

WAILUKU – A man who said he thought it was OK to sell marijuana because he was only selling the drug to tourists in Lahaina was sentenced to a one-year jail term.

Daniel Tapaoan, 50, of Kahului also was placed on five years’ probation Sept. 27.

He was arrested May 29 for selling marijuana near Banyan Tree Park, police said.

Second Circuit Judge Rhonda Loo took issue with Tapaoan’s comments to a probation officer that he thought what he was doing was OK because it was only marijuana, because he was selling to tourists, not locals, and because he was selling in Lahaina.

“I don’t care if you’re selling marijuana or meth. I don’t care if you’re selling to tourists or locals,” Loo told Tapaoan. “A 50-year-old engaging in this kind of behavior is completely out of the picture.”

Tapaoan had pleaded no contest to promoting a controlled substance in or near a public school or park.

The felony charge applies to drug distribution within 750 feet of a school, school vehicle or public park.

In addition to being arrested near the park, Tapaoan was near King Kamehameha III Elementary School, police said.

“He was caught selling overpriced marijuana under the Banyan Tree, which made it a felony,” said Deputy Public Defender William “Pili” McGrath. “He seems to be a harmless enough guy. The punishment is quite severe for what the activity is.”

Tapaoan needs to find another way to make a living, he said.

Deputy Prosecutor Timothy Tate said Tapaoan has a long history of drug use and contacts with the court system.

Under terms of a plea agreement, Tapaoan could be released from jail after six months to enter drug treatment.

“You probably should be going to prison right now,” Loo told Tapaoan. “But it’s been quite a while since your last conviction. This is your last chance.”